The Herald

University seeks 10% savings in wake of £4m budget deficit


A SCOTTISH university has asked all its academic department­s to make savings of 10% in the wake of a £4m budget deficit last year.

Glasgow Caledonian University is seeking savings of £2.45m from the exercise, which will spark fresh concern over the tight financial constraint­s under which higher education in Scotland is currently operating.

It is unclearwhe­ther the cuts will lead to job losses because individual department­s have been asked to come forward with their own proposals to meet the efficiency targets.

However, unions representi­ng staff at the university are concerned some posts could go. Glasgow Caledonian has already shed 170 jobs following a voluntary redundancy scheme launched in 2006.

According to documents on the university's website, the department­s targeted for the most significan­t cuts include the Caledonian Business School, which has been asked to make efficienci­es of £404,000, and the engineerin­g and computing school,which is looking for savings of £311,800.

The other department­s affected are life sciences, nursing, midwifery and community health, health and social care, law and social science and built and natural environmen­t.

The situation at Glasgow Caledonian is a familiar one to other higher education institutio­ns in Scotland, who have been operating in an increasing­ly difficult financial position with rising staff pay and mounting fuel and pension costs. The Scottish Government’s recent budget has also been blamed.

Last month, Dundee University announced its intention to extend an existing voluntary redundancy scheme to make savings of more than £3m over the next two years.

SirAlan Langlands, the principal, said at the time: “Given the disappoint­ing outcome from the government’s comprehens­ive spending review and the pressures on pay, pensions and utility budgets, the action taken . . . will move us towards a break-even position.”

A spokeswoma­n for Glasgow Caledonian said the university would break even this year, but also needed to look at tighter financial controls on spending.

“Like any other organisati­on, we strive to achieve best value and efficiency in all our activities. We are not a rich university, and, while income per student is low compared with the rest of the sector, our other costs are rising,” she said.

“It's absolutely right that, as we move into a new planning round, we face and tackle this head on, so we can achieve the ambitious targets we have set ourselves around excellence in learning, teaching and research.”

However, Dr Nick McKerrell, convener of the combined union committee at Caledonian, said staff morale was suffering and there were widespread fears of more job cuts.

“There is concern the buck is being passed from senior management to the department­s themselves and that there could well be more staff cuts in future,” he said.

“After the last round of voluntary redundanci­es staff are operating at full stretch, and what we don't want to see is the quality of education we offer here suffering as a result of this exercise.”

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